Interactive electronics

The title of the piece comes from a nursery rhyme referenced in George Orwell’s book “1984”. Throughout the book the main character struggles to remember the poem’s ending, which is revealed to him at the key moment, right before he is captured: “Here comes a candle to light you to bed, here comes a chopper to chop off your head”.

This thread in the whole story resonated with me, as it touches on the volatility of one’s memory, with the backdrop of large-scale manipulation of recorded knowledge performed by the totalitarian regime in the book. While Orwell mostly deals with the memory that exists within humans and memory that’s written down, today we deal with omnipresence of recorded media of multiple sorts, particularly sounds, images, and videos. As we produce larger and larger amount of such records, not only through traditional books, audio records and movies, but also in social media, blogs, podcasts etc., I find it fascinating how we navigate this oversaturated space and how it is being transformed by both large-scale phenomena as well as targeted actions. In my piece I am seeking to explore these transformations by employing a machine learning model that embeds the memory of the piece. While being performed, the piece re-composes itself, as the model is being re-trained to embed new “memories” of the performance gestures.

This work is supported by Department of Digital Arts and Experimental Media at the University of Washington, as well as eScience Institute with support from the Washington Research Foundation.

The piece is realized in 3rd order Ambisonics spatial sound format and employs custom motion sensors developed by the composer.

Premiere performance:
Meany Hall for the Performing Arts, Kathryn Alvord Gerlich Theater
Seattle, WA

Here comes a candle to light you to bed from Marcin Pączkowski on Vimeo.